Repeat yourself to become more popular (or at least better understood)

In a terrific article by Colin Morris in The Pudding he talks about the similarity of songs in the pop music sphere.

Are Pop Lyrics Getting More Repetitive?

He goes on to show how each decade had its own repetitive song genius tracks:

“The songs that reached the top 10 were, on average, more repetitive than the rest in every year from 1960 to 2015!”

And then looks at the artists who are the most successfully repetitive, and compressible by algorithmic standards of their lyrics (note this informal study doesn’t say anything about the actual music itself):

Rihanna as the outlier is kind of great …

So I wanted to check out one of my pop favs, the late George Michael and his penchant for saying it over and over again:

This is George Michael’ penchant for repetition in his lyrics

And I had to look at Rihanna too:

Umbrella, ella, ella, ella … so it’s no surprise.

Lastly we need to look at David Bowie too:

Clearly he wanted to make a point of how we need to be afraid of Americans …

Politicians use repetition as a means to get a point across as well — with my all time favorite being artist Mike Nourse’s piece where he edited down a 20+ minute speech by President George W. Bush down to three words: terror, iraq, weapons. 

Artist site’s link or watch the full version below inline.

The moral of the story is that repetition is a powerful means to communicate and to connect with someone else. And machines are not only learning this from us, they EXCEL at being repetitive. They never get tired or embarrassed to say the same thing over and over again. That should give us all concern. —JM

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